New Family of Key Mitochondrial Proteins for Function and Viability of the Brain Discovered
ScienceDaily (May 9, 2012) — A team from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) led by Eduardo Soriano, professor and director of the Department of Cell Biology of the University of Barcelona, has published a study in Nature Communications describing a new family of six genes whose function regulates the movement and position of mitochondria in neurons. Many neurological conditions, including Parkinson's and various types of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, are caused by alterations of genes that control mitochondrial transport, a process that provides the energy required for cell function.
"We have identified a set of new genes that are highly expressed in the nervous system and have a specific function in a biological process that is crucial for the activity and viability of the nervous system," explains Eduardo Soriano, head of the Neurobiology and Cell Regeneration group at IRB Barcelona.
By means of comparative genomic analyses, the scientists have discovered that these genes are found only in more evolved mammals... "This finding indicates the relevance of mitochondrial biology. When the brain evolved in size, function and structure, the mitochondrial transport process also became more complex and probably required additional regulatory mechanisms," says Soriano. ...
Correct brain function is highly energy-demanding. However, this energy must be finely distributed throughout neurons -- cells that have ramifications that can reach up to tens of centimetres in length, from the brain to the limbs. This cluster of genes forms part of the "wheel" machinery of mitochondria and regulates the localization of each cell on the basis of its energy requirements. "These genes would be like an extra control in cellular mitochondrial trafficking and they interact with the major proteins associated with the regulation of mitochondrial transport," explains Soriano.
(the genes referred to are "MIRO" and "TRAK2" though I am unable to discover any useful reference numbers so that one could compare with 23andme results. Madelyn)